Spotlight on technology: Experts stress need to enhance innovation, science

By Control Engineering Staff December 12, 2006

Washington, DC —Policy proposals intended to spur investments in innovation, research, and the education of a highly skilled U.S. workforce are the latest offerings from the Brookings Institution ‘s Hamilton Project initiative. The papers, which could benefit future process control and machine control, were presented as part of a forum called “Promoting opportunity and growth through science, technology, and innovation,” held here last week at the Paul H. Nitze school of advanced international studies. The initiative aims to focus attention on the importance of science and technology innovation to U.S. growth and competitiveness.

Linking technological progress with economic growth, one strategy paper urged the U.S. government and the private sector to renew a commitment to technological innovation to maintain a competitive edge, particularly in the face of increased globalization and foreign competition in high-skill, high-wage jobs. “To remain at the leading edge of the technological frontier,” said co-author Peter Orszag, “the United States must make more workers literate in science and engineering, must embrace a redesigned system of national investments in scientific research, and must adopt more effective incentives for private sector firms to undertake R&D.”

In addition to the presentation of the policy papers, the forum included a discussion of the importance of innovation for meeting the challenges of an economy fueled by rapid scientific and technological advancements. Observed panel member and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, “With more workers from China and India entering the global workforce, it will be important for U.S. workers to have access to the education and skills needed to compete in a knowledge economy.”

Added Lawrence H. Summers, another panel member and also a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, “Nothing is more important to U.S. prosperity, security, or global leadership than assuring that the United States remains the global leader in scientific research. This will only happen if the federal government, through its funding and its policies, creates the right environment for science and technology to flourish. On our current path, this is by no means guaranteed.”

The Hamilton Project, named for Alexander Hamilton, first U.S. Treasury secretary, says it “seeks to advance America’s promise of opportunity, prosperity, and growth.” Founded in 1916, the Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. Click here to read more from The Hamilton Project on the forum.

To find your salary and job trends in relation to your engineering peers, set the parameters and search the career database at resource.controleng.com .

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk Jeanine Katzel , senior editor